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Facets of Integrative Cancer Care: A Naturopathic Medical Standpoint

What is Integrative Cancer Care?

Integrative cancer care uses a comprehensive approach to health, combining conventional and alternative therapies specific to the patient’s needs. Integrative cancer care is NOT about replacing your medical oncologist; it is about creating a diversified team of doctors and health practitioners to formulate your unique treatment plan. An integrative approach uses the best treatments at the most appropriate time to get optimal results. This means that before surgery, chemotherapy or radiation, appropriate use of complementary therapies can fortify your body with healing nutrients to maintain your energy, strengthen your immune function, shrink recovery time, augment your cancer-fighting ability, and minimize side effects for a more optimal quality of life. 2

Role of Naturopathic Medicine in Cancer Care

Naturopathic doctors (NDs) focus on cancer care from a holistic standpoint. These physicians have expertise in complementary treatments used to support your body’s innate ability to heal and support itself. Treatments include diet and nutrition, lifestyle counseling, IV nutrient therapy, and appropriate supplementation to enhance cancer cell death. NDs are also poised for continued care post-cancer treatment to address and minimize risks for cancer reoccurrence. 2

IV Nutrient Therapy: A Facet of Cancer Care

Naturopathic cancer care has multiple facets: nutrition, botanical medicine, nutrient therapy, movement therapy, and mental and emotional support. Here we are focusing on Intravenous Nutritional therapy.

IV nutritional therapy is a highly concentrated infusion of vitamins, minerals, and other natural substances delivered directly into your cells to support optimal health and correct any nutrient deficiencies. It effectively stabilizes and increases muscle mass, replenishes vitamins and minerals, increases energy and strengthens the immune system. 3

High dose Vitamin C infusions can be used to decrease tumor burden and boost the immune system. 5 Doses as high as 50-100 grams of vitamin C are necessary for therapeutic effect and is only achievable when given via IV, whereas an oral intake of the same amount will cause severe diarrhea and cramping.

In lung, ovarian, colon, and pancreatic cancers, disease progression is often marked by loss of appetite, loss of energy, and muscle wasting. 4 For patients unable to intake enough food, IV amino acids, b vitamins, and minerals are commonly used in naturopathic clinics to halt and reverse progression of muscle loss and fatigue. It is best to start IV therapy before that point, however, and it is one of the most effective therapies at any point in the cancer fighting process.

Dr. Sonja Fung is a Naturopathic Doctor utilizing IV nutrient therapy at Live Well Clinic. Live Well Clinic is located on Washington and Hwy 111 in La Quinta at Point Happy Plaza. For more information you can visit www.livewellclinic.org or call 760-771-5970.

Resource: 1) Alschuler, Lise and Gazella, Karolyn. Definitive Guide to Cancer. 2nd Ed. Berkeley: Celestial Arts, 2007. 2) OncANP. http://www.oncanp.org/. 3) Anderson, Carter, Osborne. IV Nutritional Therapy for Physicians. Cedar Ridge: 2010. 4) Abeloff, Armitage, Niederhuber, et al. Clinical Oncology. 3rd Ed. 5) Verrax J, Calderon PB. “Pharmacologic concentrations of ascorbate are achieved by parenteral administration and exhibit antitumoral effects.” Free Radic Biol Med. 1;47 (2009): 9-27.

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